Neighbors and BLSA hosted a panel on public education on Tuesday, November 8, 2011. The following questions are a sample of the issues discussed:
- What does law have to do with education/education reform?
- What is currently the biggest opportunity and the biggest obstacle in working with labor management?
- Chicago is currently home to 100 schools with 50% or less enrollment. How do you resolve this inefficiency and still make sure the children attending those schools are adequately educated?
- How much do charter schools matter?
- Illinois currently ranks 49th out of 50th for in-state investment in public schools. We are entirely dependent on property taxes, which leads to some of the most inequitable school funding in our nation. How do we resolve this? What role will school finance litigation play? How do we distribute resources fairly in this system?
- How do we design a system that will account for all students? For example, how do we account for the students whose parents may not be sufficiently proactive to seek out a charter school education for their children?
Professor Emily Buss served as the moderator for this event. Professor Buss is the Mark and Barbara Fried Professor of Law at the Law School.
The following distinguished panelists were in attendance:
- Lisa Caridine (Hearing Officer) and/or Cheryl Colston (Director), Chicago Public Schools Labor and Employee Relations.
- Brian Dougherty, a UChicago Law graduate and associate in Jenner & Block's Litigation and Public Policy Practice. Mr. Dougherty has extensive experience in the area of school reform law and has dealt with areas ranging from school funding litigation to school governance.
- Tosha Downey, a UNC Law graduate and Recruitment Manager for Schools at the Academy for Urban School Leadership. AUSL is a nonprofit organization that has developed and implemented a unique model of reform that trains teachers in a rigorous one-year residency program and then places them in AUSL-managed turnaround schools.
- Dmitri Mehlhorn, a Yale Law graduate and the Chief Operating Officer at StudentsFirst. StudentsFirst is a nonprofit organization created by Michelle Rhee (the former Chancellor of DC Public Schools) in 2010 to build a national movement to improve public education. Mr. Mehlhorn will be joining us all the way from Washington, DC.
- Jesse Ruiz, a UChicago Law graduate and partner at Drinker Biddle & Reath. Mayor Rahm Emanuel recently appointed Mr. Ruiz as the Vice President of the Chicago Board of Education, which oversees the operations of CPS. He is also a member of the US Department of Education Equity and Excellence Commission.
- Lisa Scruggs, a UChicago Law graduate and partner in Jenner & Block's litigation department and chair of the firm's School Reform Law practice. From 2004 to 2006, Ms. Scruggs served as Senior Policy Advisor to the Chicago Public Schools' Chief Executive Officer. Ms. Scruggs has extensive experience in education reform and has received the "Commitment to Justice Award" for her work. She has also been recognized in Education Law category of Best Lawyers for the past three years.
Thanks to Jenner & Block for their generous support of this event.